Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 19:01:00 -0800
From: Justin VanAbrahams <>
Subject: Re: 9-5 SE or GS300

Steve wrote: > > Multiple sources have called the reliability of past cars into > question. The reliability record for the 900 and 9000 listed at > is poor. Consumer Reports, though giving the 9-5 a > very good review, questions the reliability based on past > Saab history. A couple weeks ago a friend was contesting the reliability of Saabs, for for fun we called up Carpoint and went through its reliability ratings of post 1988 Saabs - basically where Carpoint's info begins. I've owned 8 900s and 4 9000s ranging from 1984 to 1990, with most concentrated in the '88 to '90 region. A read just about everything I can on Saab, talk to people, and do my own research via repairs. I consider myself fairly 'in the know' about what fails on these older cars, and I could not correlate any of Carpoint's information with my own experiene. Granted, my 12 cars vs. Carpoints basis of hundreds of thousands is pretty insiginificant, but I can't honestly say I've had problems with ANYTHING they mentioned, nor has anyone I know... I don't doubt that older Saabs had some weird problems, but not a single thing I would personally take into account when considering a car's overall reliability... > The dealer also showed a list of services that would cost > over $200 every 10,000 miles. The list seemed very basic, > check fluid levels, belts, etc. and the price steep. The 30,000 (I > think) tune up list was also extensive and expensive. In this day of > 100,000 mile tune up intervals, 30,000 miles seems to be quite short. Don't look to the dealer. Most will charge you excessive amounts for basic services. I recently got a mailer from the local dealer advertising a 50% off sale on oil changes - sounded good. It included an oil change and filter, and topping off of other fluids. The price, after discount, was $40. Huh? Does that mean they actually normally charge $80 for an oil change? What universe do they live in? Not mine, apparently. You're best off finding an independant garage for basic things like that... Additionally, don't forget the "100,000 services" don't mean anything. It's a marketing gimmick. These services that can be put off for that long include spark plugs, wires, etc. You'll still be responsible for fluid changes and refreshes every 5,000 to 10,000 miles just like any other car. The Saab does have slightly higher requirements for its services, partly due to its turbocharging, but nothing above nor beyond the requirements for a Lexus, BMW, or Mercedes. Actually, Mercedes have the highest maintenance per mile cost of any production car, I believe. When you get into higher performance cars maintenance costs go up, but you won't find these costs out of line on a Saab. > The other car I am considering is the Lexus GS300. I don't like the car > as much, it's rear wheel drive AND more expensive, but it > promises both low maintenance and high reliability. Lexuses (Lexi?) are great cars. You can't beat them for performance and reliability. They have European pedigree with Japanese backing. A great package. But you won't get the driving enjoyment out of them. Comparing a Lexus LS400 to a Mercedes S500 (and I've driven them both a fair amount) is like comparing a Corolla to a Ferrari. The MB is more in tune with the road and definitely would be my preference for long-term ownership, despite it's ENORMOUS maintenance costs... My opinion: Saab exciting, Lexus boring. And I'm not talking about styling, either... in which case it might be the opposite... :) > Are there any significant changes to Saab's in the last couple of years > that make them a better bet? Any comments? Yes. 1994 and 1995 were 'questionable' in terms of reliability, and mostly the 900s and not the 9000s. The 900, being a totally new platform being developed under totally new management, had some bugs. By '96 they were virtually eliminated (I say virtually just for CYA purposes :) and I'd have no compunctions about recommeneding a 9-5. If they made an 'Aero' version of it (with well over 200hp) I'd be in line to buy... I'm just waiting until I can buy a 225hp 9-5 Wagon, then sign me up! -Justin

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